Online reviews can make or break how your business appears online. It gives your customers the chance to leave information on a public scale about you, your business, its products, services and their experience.

With customers having more information and knowledge of the internet than ever before they are prepared to shop around for a quality product and service. We have all used review sites in some capacity – Google Reviews, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Revoo and Trustpilot are a few of the most popular

Online consumers expect a quality, reliable service and over 70% of consumers search through review sites assessing their options before purchasing with an online business.


Of course, there will be apprehension using review sites as the power is in your customers hands, but the rewards are worth it. Here are three key reasons why reviews can work for your business:

  • Increased Sales: Using online reviews is a Marketing activity, it helps your customers in their decision making. With over 75% new customers happier to purchase online with recommendations and positive reviews from previous existing customers.
  • Gain Customer Insight: Online reviews will be able to give you an insight into what your business is or is not doing right. This will allow you to address any internal issues, create a more positive shopping experience for your customers and increase sales.
  • Improve SEO Rankings: The more quality content that is write about your website, the higher it ranks. It also shows Google your business is authentic, getting clicked on and actively engaging with customers.

Get it right online…

From a practical point of view, make sure you give your customers multiple opportunities to review your business. Whether it is a pop-up box, fixed bar or dedicated page on-site give them more than one opportunity to review.

Leading sites such as Trustpilot and Yelp offer several tools to embed on-site in a range of styles, just pick which suits your business more and make this available on your businesses site.

But it is all well and good having these on-site, but the next challenge is getting your customers to use them. Encourage your customers to leave reviews offering special offers, bonuses and discounts in return for their feedback.

One last thought, managing reviews…

Not all the reviews will be 100% positive, there will be the odd negative review and it is important how you deal with these.

There are 100s of online and in-store training courses specifically aimed at how to deal with online reviews. But the solution is simple - manage reviews like how you deal with customers in-store, be polite, professional, balanced and offer a solution for that customer, quality customer service goes a long way in-store and online.

In the last few years the UK has begun adopting a few online trends from the US, namely Cyber Monday and Black Friday.

Love it or loathe it they are the biggest online shopping days of the year and offers online consumers the chance to make huge savings in the build up to the festive period.

With more and more small businesses jumping on board and offering flash sales, bargains and discounts as part of their Marketing for these events ensure your business has the tool to run a flash sale smoothly.

To get the most from these promotions here are a few simple pointers to get you started:

Start planning now: Plan your promotions in advance, build up suspense with your customer base and let them know of any upcoming offers and savings in advance whether its in-store, on Social Media or via an Email Campaign.

Create specific page copy: Plan the products or services you are going to offer savings on. Ensure your website is optimised with product pages for these specific items. Point customers in the right direction and ensure your user experience is customer focused, they are not afraid to shop around when it comes to huge savings!

Create eye catching content: Whether it is for your businesses website, Social Media or to be distributed to your list of customer contacts creating eye catching content significantly increases click through rates.

Plan for an upsurge: Ensure your website can deal with increased volumes of traffic, too many page requests can slow the site down or crash the site itself. Test your website using tools like Loadimpact.com to ensure the server that your hosts your businesses website can take the strain.

Test, test, test: Before any of your promotions, artwork and copy goes live test your processes and ensure your site is fully prepared, functioning and operating as you would expect with the new pages, copy etc. Get another set of eyes from a team member and gain feedback.

Some businesses go as far as offering loyal customers a first glance ‘Exclusive’ access to a flash sale. This is used to gain customer feedback, fine tune and tweak their offering to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible in time for the main event.

Whether you love it or hate it, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here to stay for the foreseeable future. The chances are if you are not taking part, your competitors are. If you think it would be something that would add value to your business dip your toes in, start planning and prepare a campaign using these few simple pointers.

Facebook live is a live video streaming service like that of webinars. It is a way for you to interact with your customers, engage your audience and promote your business is come capacity.

For garment decorators this presents an exciting way to market your business, promote your products and services. Discuss your latest products, show off your latest work, review products, discuss your offerings/USP and even go as far as brand something live. These are fun ways of engaging with both existing customers (and hopefully potentially new customers!)


To run a successful Facebook Live video, it needs to be carefully planned, here are a few tips to consider:

Test your equipment: Prior to going live, before any trial run ensure that all your equipment is in full working order. Ensure your laptop/desktop/smart device is running at full capacity. Having a slow device or a device with a chance of break may affect how well your video is produced. You want to produce a quality professional video not one that may end at any given moment.

Have a trial run: Before going live have a run-through, it should be both scripted and un-scripted. You want to know what you are going to talk about, but you also want to mix this with more personable chat with viewers, this leads to higher levels of engagement. Test the equipment, have a few run throughs and once you are 100% confident flick the switch and go live.

Engage with customers: Quite a simple but important one, engage with people live. Use their names, interact, ask questions, thoughts and try get their feedback. A Facebook Live video and any webinar should be a two-way experience.

Invest in a microphone: Invest in a good-quality microphone to deliver your customers a crystal-clear message, you don’t want your video to be muffled, voice distorted or break up. Investing in decent quality recording equipment will improve your recording experience, the streams quality for both you and your viewers.

Schedule your broadcast: People working won’t have time for webinars. Ensure that your broadcast takes place outside of working hours, viewing figures are likelier to be higher outside of the hours of 9-5, an early evening slot gives you the chance to expand your audience and its potential reach compared to doing it during the day.

Don't forget to promote: Running a successful webinar is one thing but don’t forget to promote it for a few weeks, build up hype through Social Media, Email Campaigns, Blogging or whatever other advertising medium you use.

One last thing to consider, something very-obvious but after watching numerous webinars test out your internet connection. Test that the signal strength is all okay and ensure that there are no disruptions to your live video. 

Producing video content is a growing area for businesses and marketers alike with econsultancy reporting that over 5 billion videos are viewed every single daily.

For garment decorators what does this mean?

The industry is a visual one, it gives you the chance to review products, your latest work, discuss your processes and provide customers an insight into how you turn their ideas into a reality.


We have put together some tips and pointers to get you on your way to Youtube success:

  • Invest in equipment & software: A simple one to consider before you get started creating video content – equipment. You want your video and sound to be audible with professional quality. Invest in editing software and quality equipment, this does not have to be costly with sites selling pre-owned goods. Just do your research!
  • Create consistent content: Viewers like familiarity and routine. Create a format which works best for both you and your customers. Keep the branding and format of the video consistent, along with the duration, when it is posted and how often. This will help your viewers get to know you better, your offerings and your brand. Keep it simple, map out a plan and strategy in blocks.
  • Encourage action: Get your viewers to engage with your video, not just in terms of interacting and starting a conversation. Pre-programmed notifications can be created to drive your viewers to certain products, pages online. Tie these in relevantly with any video you create.
  • Build a following: Enhance your video and channel with your very own ‘community’. Grow a following, engage with them and encourage debate. Reach out to potential influencers, suppliers, offer product reviews and maximise your visibility and audience.
  • Optimise for search engines: Search engines will naturally pick up Youtube videos associated with your business as its quality, consistent content. To get it ranking highly each video needs optimising – include keywords in the title, create tags using your businesses keywords and provide a detailed description of your video and what it is offering.
  • Think mobile friendly: According to Google, 75% of adults watch Youtube at home on a mobile device. The number of users watching content on smart devices is growing year on year. With mobile users more likely to be watching content concentrating compared to watching on a Smart TV/PC adopt a mobile first strategy to deliver quality content to your viewers. 

Technical search engine optimisation (SEO) plays a huge role in determining whether your website is successful or not.

In a nutshell, technical SEO is the efforts of a webmaster or developer to ensure your site is compatible with Google’s many search engine guidelines. It is concerned with the structure and architecture of the site itself. A carefully designed website gives your site the best chance to be indexed and ranked for its key search terms compared to one that is not.


Site Architecture & Crawling

As your business’s website develops over time, the site’s architecture needs to be considered to ensure that Google can regularly crawl, cache and index your pages. Google has little bots and ‘spiders’ which are used to crawl websites, the main one being the ‘Googlebot’ which scans the links from one page to another.

Indexing is how search engines categorise your webpage based on content, links, meta descriptions etcetera. Using an algorithm, they categorise each page in relation to a search term and give it a ranking based on this. Page caching is another method that can help you to improve the load time of your web pages and thus optimise your site for the search engines. Cached pages are served up as static HTML versions of a page to avoid potentially time-consuming queries to your database.

Categorisation

For e-commerce websites, categorisation plays a significant part in the site architecture (and makes user experience much simpler). Careful keyword research and planning should be carried out when planning your site categories – attention should be paid when assigning a URL with crucial keywords as this can play a role in ensuring that specific pages get ranked for your preferred terms.

Site Speed

Site speed is also pivotal for an e-commerce website to perform well in the eyes of a search engine. Customers want a website to be slick, quick and allow them the capability of checking out in a few moments. This can be quite a challenge for the garment decoration industry, where there are thousands of products available.

Costs

The costs associated with managing thousands of products on an e-commerce website on a managed server is high and something that needs to be planned for as part of your ongoing online budget – the common consensus here is less is more.

Show your customer a select group of garments rather than offering hundreds of similar ones will not only ensure that the load time isn’t compromised but will also make for a much simpler user experience.

One Last Thought

 

The best time to take care of the technical aspects of SEO is during the construction phase of the website. Do your research, ask developers the right questions and make sure that the technical bases are covered. Fixing these areas after your site has gone live can be costly and time-consuming.